The vital role of radio in North Korea


Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Ulis, who recently shared a link to this story in the DailyNK.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the case of loudspeaker broadcasts, which roiled the North, eventually leading to artillery fire, it can only be heard 25km into the North from the demilitarized zone, but in the case of radio broadcasts, many North Koreans can gain access, which is why it’s believed to a play a larger role in psychological warfare.

“After listening to the radio, I naturally found myself comparing things with the reality in North Korea,” Chae Ga Yeon (50), a North Korean defector who used to enjoy tuning into radio broadcasts, told Daily NK on Wednesday. “Having learned about things that are different from state propaganda, I took on a more critical way of thinking toward the state, and I started to realize Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are not gods as the state claims. They started to look like average human beings,” she said.

“People who have tuned into broadcasts like these don’t keep the information to themselves. They share it with others,” Chae explained. “This makes other people listen in on the broadcasts as well, and they start being more critical against the state that is blocking out the information.”

Kim Seong Yeob (45) is another escapee who also tuned into these broadcasts. “North Korean broadcasts are not interesting since all they do is focus on idolization, so I enjoyed listening to South Korean broadcasts since they would share different news stories and air radio dramas as well,” Kim said. “Then I came to open my eyes to the false propaganda and developed this desire to learn more about society in North Korea and study it,” he recalled.[…]

Experts believe these broadcasts can expedite change in people’s awareness in North Korea. Given that state dominance over information is the control mechanism used over North Koreans, they believe information from outside can deal a severe blow to the North Korean system.

Click here to read the full article at the DailyNK…

Daily NK and Unification Media Group will post a series of nine articles on the effects of broadcasts to North Korea. Check the DailyNK website for updates.

As we mentioned in a previous post, the BBC has announced plans to broadcast to North Korea in the near future via shortwave. Bloomberg Business reports, however, that these broadcasts may never happen due to the potential for political backlash.

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5 thoughts on “The vital role of radio in North Korea

  1. Robert AK3Q

    Great piece – I look forward to future articles if they go through with them. This underscores what so many of us believe about the power of shortwave radio – it brings an alternative message to people in danger of never hearing anything more than “idolizing” propaganda.
    As for the political repercussions, if more countries were sending in signals besides the South Koreans, it would not matter much. If South Korea is the only voice then the political implications might be greater. That the BBC might let such considerations keep them from broadcasting would be a shame. Unfortunately most things these days seem to be decided based on political expediency rather than facing the harder, but higher, calling.
    Robert AK3Q

  2. Mike Barraclough

    It’s only 20 months ago that the World Service Board reached the opposite conclusion giving 4 reasons. I don’t see what’s changed since then nor what these broadcasts would significantly add to what’s already there. As unlike the US the UK does have an embassy in the DPRK it would have other implications as Bloomberg says. William Hague, then Foreign Secretary, to the Foreign Affairs Committee 4 January 2014 with the then views of the World Service.

    1. Tomas

      Having embassies doesn’t prevent the US (or UK until 2011) from transmitting Chinese language programs on Shortwave. Also BBC already has a Chinese language website which I assume is banned by the Great Firewall of China.

      So no, that doesn’t matter.

      Also the defector stories about radio proves that William Hague is wrong about shortwave.


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